I remember the day when my childhood friend handed me her very used Persona 4 guidebook, filled with sticky notes containing handwritten tips by her and her sister, after I had gotten a copy of Persona 4 at her behest. She gave me a knowing smirk and a good luck before leaving me to completely fall for this series while spending hours switching between the game and that very helpful guide.
While I’ve been playing the Persona games since the PlayStation 2 days, Persona 3 was the one that got away. I was never able to get a copy and I continued to think back to it whenever the franchise came to mind. Then I learned of Persona 3 Reload and happily realized that it would no longer be lost to time. I had high expectations after so many years – and this remake did not disappoint.
- Developer: Atlus
- Publisher: SEGA
- Release Date: February 2, 2024
- Price: $69.99
An Ode To An Era Gone By
The amount of joy and giddiness I felt when starting up Persona 3 Reload for the first time can not be described. The music started to play and within those first few notes, I just knew this was going to be a labor of love. The opening video began to play and I found myself dancing in my seat.
Out of curiosity, I went on a search to see some of the original Persona 3‘s gameplay so I would know what the differences between the old and new were going to be. Persona 3 Reload has managed to give the entire game a modern glow while keeping all the charm of the original game intact. The situations, dialogue, and storyline are one-for-one, which should delight all veteran players who fell in love with it back in the 2000’s.
There is a huge nostalgia factor that will appeal to the Millennial fans. The flip phones still reign supreme and the online lingo is going strong. Should younger players want to work on a certain social link, they may need a dictionary to translate what she’s saying.
It Has That Persona 5 Polish
Persona 3 Reload has stunning, updated visuals. The game utilizes the style that made Persona 5 shine. The visual upgrade connects the nostalgic story to the newer players who discovered the franchise in recent years. Seeing the old and new art side by side offers the same feeling as seeing your favorite artist redraw an old piece after years of honing their craft.
Much of the music from the original game has been remixed to add that jazzy feel from Persona 5 and it translates well. There is new music added to the game as well, with the new opening song being a prime example.
The world is no longer the 45-degree angle top-down view of earlier Persona games, but is now a more world-immersing 3rd person point of view. Honestly, it is a welcome change and one aspect of the older games that I’m glad didn’t make a comeback.
The interface of the game has been completely overhauled, making it match the new games of the franchise. Everything is easy to navigate and has a crisp look that gives it a modern finish.
The Story Is In The Details
The Persona franchise has always been top-notch when it comes to its storytelling. There is a reason the original Persona 3 shaped the rest of the franchise. Like many Persona games, the beginning gives you a hint of what’s to come before having a generally slow start with a sprinkle of the overarching plot mixed in. However, once the story gets going, it quickly speeds up.
The main character is a transfer student who somehow gets swept up in the problems of this town. With his persona abilities, he must solve the Apathy Syndrome that is plaguing the area while battling the shadows found in the hidden 25th hour of the day called the “Dark Hour” with a rag-tag group of friends. Everyone can summon a persona by shooting themselves in the head with a special gun.
As someone who loves looking at the details in a story, searching for the foreshadowing to craft theories as everything unfolds, I appreciate the themes that are placed within the game. All personas of the main cast are important figures from Greek mythology. The main building that seems the be the source of the shadows is a giant tower called Tartarus, which is the deepest part of the underworld where only the worst of the worst go in Greek mythology. All of the nods to these ancient stories draw the player in and keep the curious.
The Mechanics Are Great But The Controls are Ok
There are new mechanics added to Persona 3 Reload that elevate the over all gameplay. There were three new changes to the battle mechanics. Players are now able to control all characters, something that was not available in the original game. Having control over the entire party is beneficial when playing turn base games, so I’m glad they decided to add it in.
Another new mechanic to the game is the “Shift” feature that mimics the Baton Pass of Persona 5. When a character knocks down a shadow, they can shift over to another member of the party to deal optimal damage.
The last battle mechanic introduced is the “Theurgy”, a powerful one-shot attack that will fill up over time based on attacking and specific actions taken in battle. It becomes a final strike against enemies and comes in handy during boss fights.
Persona 3 Reload introduces the ability to “Rewind.” Players can go to the main menu to select Rewind which takes players back to one of the main sections of the day, either after school or in the evening. This is a useful mechanic for those who forget to save often and need to go back just a little bit to fix anything they missed.
The actual controls of the game were not very intuitive when playing on my full-size keyboard. To move the character around, players will use the WASD keys. The problem lies with the camera control. I was expecting to use the arrow keys or my mouse but the game wants players to use IJKL for camera control with the arrow keys being used for selecting options in menus only. The mouse can be used to control the camera but because of other controls, it just isn’t beneficial to use it.
Oftentimes, the number of buttons I have to push to trigger different commands, like hitting a shadow to initiate a battle with the right control key, made me wish I had piano hands to quickly reach all of them at once. I’m sure someone with bigger and faster hands would not have the same troubles.
I am very pleased with Persona 3 Reload after almost twenty years of wondering and reading about the hype that surrounded the game. My childhood friend and I still gush over the series when we get the chance and that original guidebook sits in a place of honor on my shelf. I can’t wait to once again feel like a teenager as we talk about Persona 3 Reload – because I will be telling her to go get a copy as soon as she can. This time around I’ll be able to hand her the guide and one that I’ve written with care.
Despite a couple of nit-picking critiques, the game has completely ensnared me with its charm. I’m excited that the game which revolutionized the series gets to have the spotlight once again and gets the TLC it deserves. The developers have done a great job breathing new life into Persona 3. The mechanics are fun and the story is well preserved, making the game feel new and exciting while also like coming home after a very long time. I think it will delight any player, regardless of your history with the series.
9 / 10
|+ Stays true to the original game
|+ The story is excellent
|+ Visuals and music are top notch
|+ New additions makes the game feel fresh
|– PC controls made me wish I had a controller instead of a keyboard
The Gamepur team received a PlayStation code for the purpose of this review.